German utility E.ON is seeking to safeguard its plan to split into two separate companies by agreeing to work with the government on shutting down Germany's NPPs. The last plant is due to close by 2022 and the government wants to ensure that utility companies pay their share of the costs. It is seeking to close a loophole that could allow utilities to avoid that liability by spinning off units.
E.ON plans to spin off its power plants, oil and gas operations as well as energy trading next year. The unit, Uniper, would assume €16.6bn ($18.5bn) in nuclear provisions. E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen is looking for a compromise. "I believe that the idea of creating a shared responsibility has a lot of merit," he said, adding that the company was "definitely open" to finding a joint solution. However, he did not say what that solution might be.
Germany's economy ministry is preparing a law that will "increase the legal certainty (for nuclear liabilities) during company reorganisations." It is seeking to close a loophole that could allow utilities to avoid €38.5bn ($42bn) in nuclear provisions. E.ON's plan includes shifting its nuclear decommissioning provisions (€16.6bn in total) to Uniper, a new unit, which will be spun off in the second half of 2016.
Under current corporate law, companies remain liable for spun off units for five years, and utilities are considering breaking up their companies to avoid paying for dismantling Germany's nuclear plants. An economy ministry spokeswoman did not say whether the new law would abolish the five-year clause, but said the aim was to prevent companies from reducing their liabilities.
The government is also forming a commission to make recommendations by the end of November for how to safeguard provisions in the long term. "We believe that the government should wait for the results presented by its commission and not draw conclusions without a clear picture of the situation," Teyssen said.
Earlier power company RWE's supervisory board approved transforming RWE from a holding company into an operating company. As part of the reorganisation, most of the company's German subsidiaries would be merged into RWE AG. RWE Generation SE will be integrated into RWE Power AG, which will be renamed RWE Generation AG and will operate independently from RWE AG. In Germany, RWE owns the operating Gundremmingen and Emsland NPPs, as well as the closed Biblis and Mülheim-Kärlich plants.